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Change Definition of "Totalled"

Include repair time.
  (+5, -1)
(+5, -1)
  [vote for,
against]

If a car is damaged in a way that it would take longer to repair it than it would take to build a new one (and ship it from the factory) it should be considered "totalled", even if the cost of the repair isn't that much.

This is to prevent scenerios where a new, expensive car incurrs $30,000 of damage and the owner has to wait months for it to be repaired. Also a car with that much damage most likely has frame damage, and is of questionable safety.

DIYMatt, Feb 13 2010

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       Your insurance should cover a rental car. Use the hell out of it.   

       I had a car totaled by an uninsured motorist. After three weeks of waiting for a claims adjuster, I called up my insurance company and told them they were getting me a rental. They did. Also; They sent a claims adjuster forthwith.   

       [+], for the pain in the ass.
MikeD, Feb 13 2010
  

       I understand now. America calls its socialism ‘insurance’.
Ian Tindale, Feb 13 2010
  

       - and ‘litigation’.
hippo, Feb 13 2010
  

       Yes. As long as the socialism is done by a private parasitic corporation that gives the bulk of it's customers no input, but caves in to the every whim of the irresponsible ones who actually cost it money, the majority of americans are OK with it.   

       It's when we're given the ability to vote for policy changes, and see our tax dollars getting spent within the borders of our country that we have a problem.   

       But tell us more about why we need another reason to "Total" a car? I thought we were doing pretty good with "If the Airbags deploy, it's totalled, because they cost more than the car."   

       Actually, I thought that was going overboard already. I mean how can something be totalled if only 10% of it needs to be replaced? And how is a part of something worth more than the whole?
ye_river_xiv, Feb 13 2010
  

       //I mean how can something be totalled if only 10% of it needs to be replaced? And how is a part of something worth more than the whole?//   

       The "whole" is assembled from robot-welded parts cranked out by the thousands, assembled mostly by unpaid robots, in a sequence which makes it easy to assemble.   

       The "part", when busted, requires that the mangled bits of frame be removed (expensive labor), the bent bits be straightened (more expensive labor), the broken bits removed and replaced (yet again more expensive labor), new parts installed and connected (see where this is going yet?) new structure custom cut and welded in place, new body panels mounted, fitted and prepped, parts masked, taped and/or removed, the body painted, parts re-installed, etc...   

       Another example: I had a car which I thought I had kept in good shape. It was about 12 years old and running great, but I took it in for maintenance at 150,000 miles. It needed:   

       Brake disks, drums and pads. Parts: pads: $100 disks: $150 drums: $75 LABOR to remove wheels, replace parts, remount wheels, align: $250   

       Automatic transmission clutch band replacement: Bands: $25 LABOR to remove, open, service, close, reinstall transmission: $450   

       Timing belt: $30 LABOR to remove battery, alternator, wheel-well lining, belt cover and belt, re-install belt, put everything back: $300   

       It was coming up on winter and the tires were bald, so I considered some new all-season radials. $400, including mounting.   

       TOTAL:$1780 Tax: $178   

       Final out-of-pocket estimate: $1958   

       The car had a KBB market value of $1500 Time for a new car.   

       Especially once a car has depreciated a bit, it becomes significantly cheaper to replace than to repair.
Freefall, Feb 15 2010
  

       I won't quibble over the benefits of marking a car with a mangled frame as being totalled. Certainly, when the whole car needs to have accordian creases taken out of it, it probably is totalled.   

       My problem is this: Certain parts on a car are intended to fail so that more valuable things do not: Airbags blow up so the heads of drivers and passengers don't splatter. bumpers take a beating so the frame doesn't get accordion-folded with every fender bender.   

       Yet, when the fender is demolished and the frame remains intact, or when an unexpected bump causes the airbags to go off for no reason, then the whole car is "Totalled" because these sacrifical components cost more than the whole car.   

       I'd buy a new bumper, or new airbags, and put them in myself. I can do that. Well... I can do the installation part. The cost of the part itself however is a significant fraction of the cost of a new car, unless I go to a junk yard, and look for what I need, but even then, the cost is often too great, because I have to pay to get into the junkyard, and the junk yard won't tell me what they have at any given time, so I have to hunt around.   

       Claiming that this situation is due to depreciation is simply a marketing scam. My car doesn't lose thousands of dollars in functionality, performance, or parts when I drive it off a dealer's lot. (Well... if the dealer is a serious cheat, it might lose a few parts when I drive it off...) And the undamaged parts on a "totalled" car have only lost value in that these pieces must generally be hand-harvested at a labor cost, and checked for damage. Damage-checking could be done using the same automated processes used to ensure quality control at the factory before installation, so really, the fact that nobody wants to pay for labor or check damaged parts is the only reason a totaled car would ever depricate.   

       Now, if you have a totaled car, go ahead and send it to me. I guarantee that I can harvest enough working parts from it, and sell them online that I would recoup the value for the whole car several times over, even with labor costs, and disposal of the ruined frame deducted.   

       Why then is it that the cost of the parts are several times greater than the whole? This should not be the case. Especially with regard to sacrifical components. the whole point of having a sacrificial component is to save more expensive parts. If portions of a car frame are in the crumple zone, those should cost less than the parts the car is trying to preserve.
ye_river_xiv, Feb 15 2010
  

       It's kind-of understandable that a deployed airbag needs to be replaced, since I can't imagine how to design one which could be deployed, then folded back into it's compartment, recharged with whatever explosive is used for deployment, and (most critically) still trusted just as much as a brand new one.   

       But why can't a car fender/bumper be designed that it can fully absorb the impact of a low speed collision without needing to be replaced? Why are components that deform/break chosen over ones which can compress, then spring back when the pressure is released?
goldbb, Feb 15 2010
  

       [+]As a slight modification, there would probably have to be a fixed deadline.. something similar to the lemon law where if they can't repair it for find the parts that they need within 30 days (in addition to furnishing the rental) then it must be totaled.   

       //I have to pay to get into the junkyard, and the junk yard won't tell me what they have at any given time//   

       Wow! I didn't know that junkyards did that! That seems like a very bad way of doing business.
Jscotty, Feb 15 2010
  

       I used to frequent a scrapyard in Birmingham which removed the components from the scrapped cars, and displayed them on racks with price tags. Very civilised!
pocmloc, Feb 15 2010
  

       //Why then is it that the cost of the parts are several times greater than the whole?//   

       The machines that make those parts are probably pretty expensive. The auto manufacturer can distribute that large fixed cost over the hundreds of thousands of vehicles it produces each year. A 3rd party supplier has to distribute that whole cost over the much smaller market for replacement parts. The auto manufacturer would rather you buy a new car than fix your old one, so it has no incentive to sell the part for any less that what it costs the 3rd party supplier to make it. Besides, if the auto maker can make the part at a lower price than the 3rd party supplier can, the difference is pure profit for the auto maker.
SirBobofBobton, Feb 16 2010
  

       Um, we already have this in the UK. a 'Write Off' is a car that has been damaged beyond economic repair. Things like chassis damage are classic examples.
Unfortunately it is open to abuse by unscrupulous insurance companies.
Hang on - there is an unnecessary word there - I mean "Unfortunately it is open to abuse by insurance companies.
gnomethang, Feb 16 2010
  

       // But why can't a car fender/bumper be designed that it can fully absorb the impact of a low speed collision without needing to be replaced? //   

       They used to be so designed. Unfortunately, any energy not absorbed by things like bumpers tends to get transferred into vehicle occupants. It is difficult to design bumpers that will avoid being damaged in collisions minor enough that vehicle occupants don't particularly need protection, without compromising the effectiveness of those bumpers in accidents where protection is vital.   

       Old car: survives a crash without damage, but occupants are all killed.   

       New car: occupants all escape without a scratch, but vehicle is totaled.   

       Which is better?
supercat, Feb 16 2010
  

       A car is considered totaled if the cost to repair the car is greater than the difference between the car's value if repaired and is value if not repaired. In some cases, a car which is less heavily damaged may be "totaled" even if one that was more severely damaged was not. For example, if a car which has a really good engine but is otherwise a piece of junk, there may not be much difference in value between the engine and the entire car. If the car is in a minor collision which leaves the engine undamaged, it may make more economic sense to transplant the engine to a car whose value would benefit from it than to repair the car that really isn't very good. If the engine were damaged in a way that left it usable but greatly diminished its value, such a transplant would no longer make sense and thus repair might be a better option.
supercat, Feb 16 2010
  

       many owners might be disappointed to find that their 6 month old luxury car isn't worth nearly as much as they paid for it.
WcW, Feb 18 2010
  
      
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